Old Post Proposed new business for New Polzeath Beach

May 2012 update: extract from minutes of St Minver Lowlands Parish Council meeting of 02-04-2012

i. New Surf School, New Polzeath – Minute 34/2012 refers. Mr Jolyon Sharpe, CC’s Senior Beach Ranger advises that CC is powerless to stop this venture because it is on privately owned land. It is for the surf school to develop safe working system and risk assessments to satisfy their insurers

This advertisement has been placed in the Cornish Guardian. (first notice placed)

KIVELLS:- New Polzeath Beach, Wadebridge. An opportunity to acquire a Licence for the purpose of surfing lessons and associated activities on part of New Polzeath Beach for a period of three years commencing on 1st May 2012.
Letting particulars and tender form available from the Landlord's agent, Mr WM Bunt, Kivells, 7-8 Bay Tree Hill, Liskeard, Cornwall, PL14 4BE. Tel: 01579 324928 or 07879 640970. Email:mbunt@kivells.com

The following information is supplied by Pete Craske:-

Dear Polzeath Stakeholder

New Surf School Proposed for New Polzeath?

I have to confess that when I saw the advert for a surf school for sale at New Polzeath in the Cornish Guardian, I had to check that it wasn't the 1st April. A surf school operating at the North End of the beach, outside the flagged area, right in the middle of the rip? Really? Someone's having a laugh, I thought. A real belly chuckle. I popped into Kivells to get the details and it seems that actually far from being a joke, it's all very serious. Very serious indeed.

A quick recap

I founded Surf's Up! back in 1995 with my wife Janey, at a time when there were only eleven surf schools in the country. Today there are over 100. Back then there was no licencing and no control of the beaches - but then it was much quieter. As we all know surfing has enjoyed a significant boom over the past ten years, but due to this rapid increase, control of operators has become a necessity.
Eight years ago, two measures were introduced on Polzeath Beach via the Beach Management Plan. The first was the introduction of trading licences - one on the Council side and the other on Steve Perry's (leased by Rob Harris) - the 'dark side' as we know it! And secondly we saw the introduction of the Wave licence scheme. This takes into consideration the operating numbers, and permits surf schools to run lessons depending on the tides and surf conditions, figures based on a scientific report made by Professor Green from Edinburgh University. It is a vital contribution to ensuring the safety of all water users. Although it adversely affected our business, we supported the initiative.
So as it stands, on the beach we have two operators who agree to voluntarily restrict numbers of pupils in the water. This is a really good thing. We're in competition, but we always work within the confines of the restrictions, and there's always plenty of communication. This is in the interests of all the beach stakeholders and users ensuring the reputation of Polzeath as a safe family beach destination. This is fully supported by the RNLI who lifeguard the beach.

The New Surf School
The proposal of a new surf school to operate exclusively outside the lifeguard flagged area at the North end of the beach is beyond reason. I quote from our Risk Assessment that the Cornwall Council have copies of:

Dangers - New Polzeath

The littoral currents pull south to north from the middle of the beach and will draw the unwary towards the rocks. Particularly at risk are weak swimmers who get just out of their depth and those who enter the water via the steps at New Polzeath.

One of the main roles of a surf school is to educate new or inexperienced surfers in two areas; surfing skills and safety awareness. Encouraging new or inexperienced surfers to use the New Polzeath side fails in this regard and furthermore encourages those not in lessons to assume that this is in fact a 'safe area' creating issues both when lifeguards are on duty, and perhaps even worse, then they are off duty. It is not a safe area and should never be promoted as such. Interesting it is favoured as the 'locals area' because the bars are well formed and the rips well established providing the most dynamic wave at Polzeath.

It is the legal responsibility of any new surf school to provide a true and accurate risk assessment. With 18 years experience working on Polzeath Beach, I know that this cannot be done for New Polzeath and any attempt to prove otherwise should be dismissed. Insurance is a standard requirement. I do not believe that any insurer will look at an operation outside of the flagged area at Polzeath. There are other issues in the tender document for the new surf school that raise eye brows. Assuming that the busiest times of the day are between 12pm and 4pm, for example. This is totally without regard for the affects of the tide. And, there is no indication of any restriction on participant numbers. I could go on but your tea will be getting cold!

In summary, the proposed surf school would be: teaching outside the safe areas designated by the flag system; against the advice of the RNLI and council; against the Beach Management Plan and the other operators both schools and hire that comply with it. Furthermore, the tender document is ill-conceived and misguided in it's understanding of a working beach. Nuff said.

I hope that you will support my action in encouraging the vendors and the selling agent Kivells to come to the table for a good old chin wag. They can be contacted at the addresses below if you'd like to say hello.

Selling Agent - M Bunt, Kivells, 7-8 Bay Tree Hill, Liskeard, Cornwall PL14 4BE mbunt@kivells.com - (good luck. I've written, phoned, even popped in and had no reply!)

Vendor - Andrew Williams andrew.williams@lanhydrock.com (Seems like a jolly decent fellow going on previous communications!)

I have copied this letter to the St. Minver Parish, Cornwall County Council, RNLI, Coastguard, Polzeath
 stakeholders, MP Dan Rogerson, other important big wigs and my Mum (she likes me to keep here
posted on stuff).

Slip, slap, slop

Pete Craske

Surf's Up! Surf School

Further information from County Council :-

Waves North Cornwall Licence Scheme

Last updated: 24/11/2011 Add to My Bookmarks Subscribe


This license scheme has been developed as a direct response to the increase in demand from commercial water activity providers, who wish to utilise beaches managed by Cornwall Council for their own commercial purposes.

The schemes main aim is to identify and manage a finite number of operators at safe and sustainable levels. This is supported by a robust rationale for managing the health and safety of all beach users.

Any company operating on a council managed beach must be a member of the Waves north Cornwall licence scheme.

North Cornwall's economy, like other districts in Cornwall, relies heavily on the influx of tourists each year. Tourists visit the area mainly to experience the natural heritage that north Cornwall offers, with the coastline and beaches being the most visited of these areas.

As a consequence of this, north Cornwall's beaches have seen a massive increase in popularity over the last few years and with it a marked interest in water recreation, such as surfing and other water activity. Technology advances in wet suit manufacture and easy access to the coast, has given rise to large numbers of people accessing the water as either individual users or as part of commercial groups offering guided tuition in 'extreme sports'.

However, many issues arise from this, such as overcrowding during busy periods of the year, managing this in a very dynamic and potentially hazardous environment and unqualified would-be operators taking advantage of the situation.

Who is it aimed at?

This scheme has been developed to manage operators who intend to provide commercial water activity on Cornwall Council owned or managed beaches. The beaches this scheme covers are at present: Porthcothan, Treyarnon, Constantine, Booby's Bay, Harlyn, Polzeath, Widemouth, Summerleaze and Crooklets.

Principles behind the licence:

  • Protect public safety
  • Identify operators who support high levels of competency together with high levels of operational health and safety standards
  • Managing demand and capacity issues
  • Sustainability of beach use and the environment
  • Proactive beach management

Conditions of licence:

  • Appropriate qualifications (coaching, first aid, surf rescue);
  • Appropriate equipment for the users, including safety equipment;
  • Appropriate coaching ratios;
  • Public Liability Insurance;
  • Appropriate Health and Safety documentation;
  • Previous experience as a water activity provider;
  • Have a positive working relationship with RNLI Beach Lifeguard Service;
  • Complying with the Council's recommended guidelines for water activity provider carrying capacity;

Current licensed operators for 2011 are:

  • MFD
  • Moorland Hall
  • BSX
  • Raven Surf School
  • Atlantic Pursuits
  • Shoreline outdoor Adventure
  • Wavehunters
  • Surf's Up!
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Harlyn Surf School
  • Waves Surf School
  • Constantine Surf School

For further information please contact the Environment Service, Beach Management Team on 01208 262800.